By Alex Muhumuza
In the first part of this article we examine a portion of a piece titled, “Biruta’s false claims against Uganda diversionary from Kigali criminal acts” that appeared on Softpower, a Kampala-based website this week. The Softpower article is full of self-serving diatribes against Rwanda by unnamed Kampala security sources. This is hardly surprising by an outlet of misinformation run by Sarah Kagingo, one of the most ardent minions of the Museveni regime.
Following the first part of our dissection of the piece, we begin where we left off:
Take the claim that Rwanda has been sending agents to Uganda ‘to kidnap people’ (supposedly Ugandans and Rwandan refugees). It follows another, that “a number of armed Rwandan state agents have over the years been arrested on Ugandan territory.” But this is something known only by Kampala’s merchants of misinformation.
Kampala has never paraded one alleged armed Rwandan agent to the public, to back its claims.
The reason for that is simple: that claim is just another of the endless fictions the Ugandan regime concocts against Rwanda.
Softpower – like a multitude of other websites, blog sites and social media accounts on CMI’s payroll – has been a champion of smearing Rwandans whom Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho’s agents abduct on accusations of “espionage”, “illegal weapons possession”, “kidnap”, and others.
In Uganda it had become routine (before Rwanda issued its travel advisory against its people crossing to the country) for CMI operatives to single out any Rwandan, surround him, forcefully drag him into a vehicle, slap a hood over his head, handcuffs on his wrists, and drive off. The victim is never told what he or she is accused of. That victim could be an old man in Uganda to visit a son at school, like. It could be a businessman, transiting on his way to Nairobi. It could be some civilian from Rubavu, together with his mother visiting Kampala for the first time, looking for a family member gone missing.
Rwandan media has tirelessly reported on the plight of these victims: people like Fidele Gatsinzi, Damascene Muhawenayo, Patrick Niyigena, Moses Ishimwe, and numerous others none of whose abductors ever brought a case against. These people, and hundreds of others like them, were illegally detained – in dungeons or ungazetted places of detention, so-called safe houses – subjected to torture, but not one was tried. Why?
Because, as lawyers of some of the Rwandans, like Kampala-based attorneys Eron Kiiza and Anthony Odur (of Kiiza & Mugisha Advocates) have pointed out, the allegations against the victims are concocted. “We have repeatedly challenged CMI to provide evidence but they never did, even once,” said Kiiza mid last year.
But whenever CMI claims it “has arrested this Rwandan spy!” or it has “arrested a Rwandan on illegal weapons charges”, and so on, the regime propagandists, never bothering to verify facts, regurgitate the propaganda. That is their job, and they do it very zealously.
When Softpower says, “Rwandan armed state agents”, it is falsely insinuating that the very victims of CMI’s arbitrary arrests and torture are the so-called “Rwandan state agents”.
Shamelessly the website then drags Rene Rutagungira – who languished in Ugandan military detention, illegally detained on accusations for which CMI had zero proof – into the mud, again.
“Rutagungira had been kidnapping Ugandans, and Rwandan refugees and illegally repatriating them to Rwanda since 2013,” Softpower claims, obviously thinking that to repeat a lie a hundred times makes it truth.
Rutagungira, a businessman in the Ugandan capital when CMI abducted him, was guilty of no crime. They detained him, a civilian, at Mbuya, then at Makindye Military Barracks from August 2017 up to when he was released in January this year, with eight other Rwandans. As attorney Kiiza has revealed: “Ugandan security could not produce one credible piece of evidence. They resorted to torture, but could prove nothing!”
Showing that there is no limit to the shamelessness of Ugandan propaganda lies, Softpower then claims, “Rutagungira was pardoned by President at the request of President Kagame.”
This is an incredible distortion of the truth.
Rutagungira – and all others released from the clutches of Ugandan security agencies – are back home (in Rwanda) only because Kigali mounted relentless pressure on Kampala to either release, or try them in court. There isn’t one Rwandan that has been released because of the alleged magnanimity, or anything like that, of president Museveni.
Apparently unable to filter which kind of fictions might contain some credibility, Softpower soon reverts to an old ploy. That is when, every time Kampala propagandists attempt to deflect blame for their regime’s crimes, Rwanda is the scapegoat.
“Uganda in the previous couple of years has witnessed assassinations of high-profile persons,” writes Softpower. It goes on to quote a shadowy source saying: “the high-profile assassinations were committed by Rwandan state agents with intention to compromise Uganda’s national security.”
One familiar with the sleazy habit of Kampala of making such allegations with nothing to back them won’t be surprised by the repeated sleazy attempts to smear Rwanda with the deaths of individuals like former Uganda Police Spokesperson AIGP Andrew Kaweesi, former Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga, former Buyende DPC Muhammad Kirumira and others.
Attempts to blame Rwanda any time a prominent Ugandan like these – or the dozens of Ugandan clerics gunned down in the earlier decade – is killed have always originated with Museveni. Every time, even before a minute’s investigation is conducted, Museveni addresses the public with claims that a ‘neighboring country’ (code for Rwanda) is behind the crime.”
As usual, the Ugandan ruler and his minions are lying.
He knows who is killing Ugandans, but it is no foreign government.
It is Museveni and his security apparatus.
Which foreign government can for instance go back to a murder scene to retrieve video from CCTV cameras? None. Yet that’s what happened near Kaweesi’s house in Kulambiro where the assassins killed him, his driver, and bodyguard. Next day Museveni’s security people, upon realizing the cameras could have captured the murder, went and took out the video. Three and a half years later, no one has said what happened to the footage.
The Ugandan regime can attempt to smear Rwanda with Museveni’s crimes, but Ugandans are no longer fooled.
Popular opposition leader Bobi Wine of People Power this Thursday for instance read out a string of names, of his party’s officials killed by the Ugandan state: Yassin Kawuma (who took a bullet in Wine’s place), Asuman Walyendo, Michael Alinda, Sweet Pepsi, Hakim Sekamwa, Ritah Nabukenya, Dan Kyetune, Charles Mutyabule, Golooba Omulangira, Robert Nyakutta, Ismail and Asuman Lwanidi. He was quite clear about who is responsible for their fates: the Ugandan ruler and his government.
“Museveni and his minions have deceived Ugandans so long it can’t work any longer,” said a Kigali-based social media commentator. “Whatever scapegoating they try against Kigali, it can no longer work.”
It is the same when Softpower tries another falsehood, that “there are many refugees in Uganda because of problems in Rwanda.”
This is a long discredited claim. An organisation like the UN has proclaimed Rwanda as completely safe for all her people. “There are no reasons there should be Rwandan refugee anywhere,” says a cessation clause declared on 30 June 2013 by UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.
Those Rwandans that remain in exile mostly are suspects, or culprits in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who fear to stand trial. To-date Uganda hosts close to 300 genocide suspects that it has refused to deport, to be made answerable for their crimes.
Also there are the hundreds of Rwandan refugees in Ugandan camps that Kampala has insisted on keeping, “because they are a huge cash cow for corrupt Museveni Government acolytes,” said a Kampala journalist.
An audit by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight, carried out in January 2018 for instance revealed “massive inflation” of refugee numbers by Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister; massive over-charging for land ostensibly to host refugees; gross overpayment for water-trucking vendors, and other fraudulent expenditures that cost donors millions of dollars.
The corruption unearthed was such that the governments of Japan, Germany and the UK cut all funding off for Uganda’s refugee program.
“The Museveni regime has been inflating refugee numbers because of the lucrative corruption opportunities, which is a big reason they retain Rwandan refugees,” a Kigali official said, adding that Kinyarwanda-speaking refugees also are seen as an important recruitment source for anti-Rwanda terrorist groups.
Never expect a bottom when it comes to the Ugandan regime and its propagandists, our source said.